California’s New Equal Pay Act and Protections Against Retaliation

Last week, California’s legislature cleared the way for a new bill that will ensure there’s equal compensation for women in the workplace.  Accordingly, Governor Jerry Brown has indicated he promptly sign the bill into law.  The new bill specifically prohibits employers from paying different wages to employees based on their gender for substantially the same work.  In addition, as we see with similar anti-discrimination laws, the bill also includes an anti-retaliation provision forbidding employers from taking adverse action against employees who inquire about their colleagues’ salaries.  Interestingly, the bill puts the burden on the employers to prove that differing pay rates are based on factors other than gender.

Workplace discrimination has been a hot topic recently (See other blogs related to workplace discrimination here).  Luckily, California has many laws in place to protect employees from retaliation when they notify the government or request that an attorney fight for their rights.  Here are the most common anti-retaliation laws:

  • Labor Code Section 1102.5 prohibits retaliation against employees who “blow the whistle” by notifying a government agency on, or refuse to participate in, activity that would violate any laws or regulations in the workplace.
  • Labor Code Section 98.6 prohibits retaliation against employees who file a complaint for labor code violations with the Labor Commissioner or the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
  • Labor Code 6399.7 prohibits retaliation against employees for filing a complaint or testifying on occupational safety and health issues.
  • Government Code Section 12653 et al. prohibits retaliation against employees who report to a government entity any fraudulent billing that were improperly submitted for payment to the government.
  • Government Code Section 12940(h) prohibits retaliation against employees who oppose discrimination or harassment based on race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition, marital status, sex, age, or sexual orientation.
  • Health and Safety Code Section 1278.5 prohibits retaliation against patients, physicians, nurses and medical staff who whistleblow to the government or its agencies on patient care issues at a healthcare facility.
  • Finally, California has its own Whistleblower Protection Act at Government Code Sections 8547-8547.12 which specifically protects state employees against retribution from reporting waste, fraud, abuse of authority, violation of law or threat to publish health.

If you believe that you suffered an employment law matter related to your employee rights or know of possible retaliation after reporting discriminatory conduct, prompt action to preserve your rights is crucial.  Contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Stephen Danz & Associates for a free consultation to discuss your circumstances and legal options.